Student journalists are all too familiar with the challenges they’ll face upon leaving college and entering the profession. But for those pursuing careers as foreign correspondents, the future presents even more hurdles.
“[It’s] a time when many news outlets have abandoned international coverage — and when those who haven’t increasingly depend on freelancers who hustle stories for minimal fees and often with no reimbursement of expenses at all,” wrote Jon Sawyer, executive director of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, in an op-ed published by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Sawyer joined Martin Kaiser, editor for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, for the final episode in a series of foreign policy forums on Feb., 24. UWM’s Institute of World Affairs and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel sponsored this year’s Fireside Forum.
Amongst an audience of campus-community members, Sawyer and Kaiser as well Douglas Savage, the forum’s moderator, discussed the challenges and outlook of international reporting.
Kaiser expressed his concern.
“Instead of getting out there and saying ‘I’m curious, I’m interested in what’s going on, I don’t know what the truth is. I really want to do reporting to find the truth …[people] start with opinions,” Kaiser said.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel previously partnered with The Pultizer Center on Crisis Reporting to bring global stories to the local level.
“The world gets smaller and smaller and what’s happening becomes more and more important,” Kaiser added.
The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a nonprofit journalism organization, works to support and sponsor international journalism that U.S. news organizations are unable to pursue. The center has a focus on under-reported topics and has educational programs to inspire youth to become more informed.
“We do it as a public good,” Sawyer said. “We’re working with big outlets and trying to get information out to as many publics as we can, and maintain a conversation.”
Being well informed is exactly what some audience members hope to gain from following the news. According to Kaiser, however, more people are showing allegiance to organizations that support their own personal viewpoints versus following organizations that present multiple viewpoints.
“It’s concerning for the future,” Kaiser said. “If we can’t even talk or understand different points of view or even be open to them, what does it say about us as a community trying to go forward?”
Both Sawyer and Kaiser stressed that the future of journalism is uncertain and agreed technology plays a big role in determining where the field goes. The importance of finding revenue sources to provide quality news and engage audiences is another point the speakers addressed.
“Real, serious reporting costs money,” Kaiser said.
“Bringing the Story Home: The Economics of International News” as well as previous forums are available online.